Grow flowers by burying your old shoes. This great idea has inspired Netherlands based OAT Shoes to produce biodegradable shoes that bloom. The shoes are made of a combination of natural materials such as bio-cotton, cork and hemp mixed with certified biodegradable plastics. In a warm, moist and fertile soils with plenty of microbes, the shoes break down in about 6 months. And what is really unique, the tongue of the shoe carries a sheet of paper infused with a wildflower mix of 6 different seeds including black-eyed susan, catchfly and sweet alyssu. You can bury the sheet with your shoes in your garden and flowers will bloom from your shoes.
Initiating change in the waste processing industry
OAT shoes long-term plan is to convince local waste processing industry to allow biodegradable textiles and shoes to be industrially compost at a compost plant. In the Netherlands, they have already started the discussions to set up an infrastructure. This way you do not have to digg up your lawn. You can just throw away your shoes in the green waste bin available in many countries already.
Will biodegradable shoes go mainstream?
OAT shoes estimates that they are saving 99% of water and 60% of CO2 compared to regular cotton canvas shoes. This environmental impact is becoming an important variable in the consumer’s decision making process. Except Puma, who launched their InCycle line this summer including biodegradable shoes, the other major fashion brands have not really picked up on this trend. The industry’s biggest challenge is probably in keeping production costs down. Strong biodegradable glues are not yet available and the shoe’s natural materials require a strong costly stitching thread. Furthermore, the use of vibrant colors still require fixators of chemical nature that don’t go well with the environment. This makes the shoes less marketable. If we really want biodegradable shoes to go mainstream, we should make industry disrupters such as OAT shoes successful by buying their products.